Tips for Turkey

I am going to be in Turkey for about 10 days starting on Tuesday. Any tips or must-sees in Istanbul and elsewhere?

74 thoughts on “Tips for Turkey

  1. Hi from Turkey. You can start visiting Sultan Ahmet and Ayasofya mosques also there are a lot of historic mosques and churches besides these two. Then you’ve to go Topkapı Palace near the Bosphorus where Ottoman Empire Sultans live. You can look for Yedikule and Rumeli fortresses and Galata, Kız towers. 10 days are not enough to visit İstanbul but you can go wherever you want while you’re in İst. It’s difficult to write every place tovisit so when you visit these places you can ask people where to go next. Have fun you will love İstanbul.

  2. Well, I would like to host you for a couple of days and drive you to a couple of beautiful places if you choose to pass through Albania (my country) on the way back. What do you think 🙂 (please!)

  3. Hi,

    I am from Turkey and welcome to our wonderful country. I am not in Istanbul though, I am in the capitol, Ankara.

    My suggestions for must-sees in Istanbul would be:,_Istanbul's_Tower

    Actually there are lots of other places to see that cannot be listed easily.

    You can check:

    as well.

  4. see princess islands, crazy Istiklal Street in Istanbul
    go to cappadocia if you have time (far away from Istanbul)
    but better to spend 10 days in Istanbul and around.
    don’t miss tall ships parade in Istanbul

  5. If you have a chance to go to Cappadocia (Central Turkey) do it and go stay in a good cave hotel and tour the underground cities, etc.

    In Istanbul, be sure to get a traditional Turkish bath.

    Side note: I was in Turkey for about 10 days also, day 8 was 9/11/01.

  6. Hi, haven’t been for several years but these are some examples – can find alternatives dotted around Istanbul:

    Sultanahmet Kofte on Divan Yolu

    Turkish bath at Cemberlitas and there’s a really nice little tea garden just 1/2 mins from entrance where you can drink tea and smoke from the water pipes.

    Ortakoy on the coast (can get a minibus – dolmus) is very nice for fish meals.

    If you want to eat brain salad – as in sheep brain – its generally eaten in a soup cafe after a night of drinking raki – don’t know any good ones in Istanbul though.

    There are nice boat trips up the Bosphorus but a nice cheaper, authentic feel is simply to get the Haydarpasa ferry instead.

    Its worth getting lost in Grand Bazaar (some people years ago got lost in there for couple of days) but I guess if GPS works in there now it won’t be the same 🙂

    Haggling tips also feel free with taxis etc too.

    To give an idea of what you can see outside of Istanbul in a few days – I’ve never used them personally but ones like Anatolian Sky tours have some info.

    1. Well I’m from Turkey but I didn’t know Iran was within borders of Istanbul. Thanks for the information.

      1. I understand that English may not be your first language but, seriously, try Reading the (very short) post or, failing that, even just the (very short) title before you try, so sarcastically, to correct someone else’s comment.

        Matt will be in Turkey for ten days and requested “tips for Istanbul and elsewhere”. That “elsewhere” would, well, the rest of Turkey. The clue was in the post title: Tips for Turkey.

        You’re welcome.

      2. p.s. – sorry. I didn’t read your original comment in the tongue-in-cheek way you probably intended. Just been hearing a lot of ignorance about Iran lately…

  7. The SCUBA Diving is great and the beaches are okay. It is hot all day, so the majority of people go outside in the mornings because it is the nicest part of the day and avoid the midday heat. Word to the wise if you are with a girlfriend/wife etc. -stay close to her if you visit the markets. The men can and will get physical if your not careful. Best to retain a personal travel guide. Currency wise the Euro trades better on the street compared to the Dollar.

    Have a great trip and enjoy.

    Jeffery 100% 🙂

  8. Wow.. A loooot of things to see in Istanbul 😀
    If you want to see historic places you can go to the usual suspects:
    Ayasofya Camii ( Hagia Sophia Mosque)
    Sultanahmet Camii (Blue mosque)
    Topkapi Palace
    Galata Tower
    Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar)
    Ortakoy Camii (Ortakoy Mosque) are a few of them..
    If want to go shopping:
    “Cities Mall” in Tesvikiye, “Akmerkez” or “Kanyon Shopping Mall” in Levent are some of the popular ones..
    You can check out “Istanbul Modern Art Museum” in Tophane district (you can have a Nargile – hookah after museum trip in Tophane 🙂
    Make a Bosporus boat trip if the weather is nice (I’m in LA, have no idea :).
    Taksim is the city center and there are hundreds of bars, performance halls etc. around Istiklal Caddesi (Istiklal Avenue)
    EAT A LOT! food is awesome.. there are a lot more to do, but these are the basics 😀
    Have fun !

    1. Iran and most Iranians are lovely but the Iranian government are kind of assholes. They tend to arrest as spies tourists who wander into their territory, using them for internal propaganda and as bargaining chips in their dealings with the West.

      They have been holding 3 innocent American hikers for 10 months now:

      I would give the same warning about other authoritarian states, such as North Korea, Myanmar and Arizona.

      If Matt was captured, wandering around with his lovely big camera, there’s a real danger that his incarceration would delay the release of WP 3.0.

  9. You must see topkapi, sultanahmet, beyoglu and if you want to see more of turkey try graand pazaar and dont carry to much cash with you or show in the public.

    if l know before you could come and see altinkum holiday resort.

  10. take a trip to the islands thats for sure
    the archeological museum is a very good one if youre interested
    all the tourist sites would be marked on a map anyway. its a very good time to visit because the huge restoration site that blocks the icons in hagia sophia was removed, just for this year..
    my favorite place to smoke a nargile (shishah?) is corlulu ali pasa medresesi, its not expensive and makes one of the best shishas, and is in a historical madrasah. to your right when walking from sultanahmet square to beyazıt tram stop.
    dont hang around at the historical peninsula other than for sightseeing. the nightlife is tourists only. most locals prefer the taksim area cafes and bars along the istiklal street- between galatasaray square and the galata tower.
    there are breakfast places along the bosphorus in rumelihisarı. the views are great and it would take about 4-5 hours to eat the full turkish breakfast, though that is if you like cucumbers, tomatoes, eggs, several kinds of cheese, strong tea and other common turkish breakfast dishes..
    if you visit the anatolian side of istanbul(two continents in one city:) take a ferry to üsküdar, the maidens tower and some mosques are there, and from there, go north. there are neighborhoods along the bosphorus which used to be fishermens towns. you can eat fish or have tea on the shore. to the south of uskudar there isnt much for sightseeing, but kadıkoy has good bars.

  11. I really loved Istanbul when I went there:

    I took public transportation from airport and to get around and thought they were good. We stayed in the historic area and didn’t find the Beyoglu area until later in the trip – big mistake! Fun, young, and trendy – check it out early in the trip so you can go back often if you like.

    Katie Parla is the Rough Guide author for Turkey and loves Istanbul:

    Cenk is a Turkish food blogger in Istanbul and spent 5 years in SF (site in English)

    Let me know if you want to contact them directly, I can intro you. 🙂

  12. the sweet wine, the coffee, Köçek dancing, the taxis, remembering where your hotel is +
    have a ball

  13. Just visit Istanbul if its your first to do this it would be a great experience for you since all the previous visitors or most of them were amazed by its beauty and summed it up as one of the best cities inthe world.

  14. I live in Istanbul. My favorite trip here is to go to the ayah yorgi monestary on the back of buyukada island. You can see entire istanbul from there since it lies on a mountain and the monks there usually have selfmade wine. It’s quite a trip, but an unforgettable location to get drunk.

  15. Turkey! My favourite country. I lived (and worked) there in the mid-1960’s and early 1970’s, last visited a couple of years ago.

    In Istanbul, of course the big mosques, the covered bazaar, the spice bazaar. The boat trip from Istanbul to the edge of the Black Sea and back (with a stop for lunch at the half way point).

    As someone else suggested, if you can, spend a couple of days in Cappadocia – amazing. Last time we went we hired a car in Ankara (Eurocar) and drove there and stayed at a Pensione in a room built into a cave. The advantage of the car is that you can then easily travel to all of the amazing things in Cappadocia. Wahtever you do, make sure you visit one of the underground cities – just astonishing.

    Have a great trip!

    Willie Bey

  16. With so much tips (and double entries), I actually cant wait for Google Wave integration.

    Curating (formatting) these comments. Making a Wikipedia style travel guide.

    Then again, only possible without Trolls, and broad readership.

  17. Our boys, 13 and 16, are in Turkey now! They are studying for three weeks and touring for one week. They went last summer, as well. They love Turkey!

  18. Definitely see Ephesus, and try to swing through Aphrodisias if you can make it — there’s a full Roman circus (like a stadium, complete with bleachers) there that’ll blow your mind.

    Safe travels! Turkey’s one of my favorite countries. 🙂

  19. Hi Matt,

    I live in Istanbul, if you need help for your trip i can be your temporary tourist guide in Istanbul 🙂

    Just contact me via email,

  20. Hey Matt,

    Obvisously you’re going to be checking out Istanbul. I would also recommend seeing Turkey farther away from the big city.

    Cappadocia is absolutely amazing.
    So is Southern Turkey.
    Not sure if 10 days is enough but going out to Eastern Turkey would be really incredible!

    Have fun,

    Darren L Carer

  21. Matt, you should visit Izmir, Cesme! Excellent food & sea. Then you can head to Pamukkale (4-5 hours drive) and/or Ephesus. If you come here just give us a call/email we’ll be happy to welcome you in Izmir.

    1. I suggest Çeşme – Alaçatı (Izmir)
      Stay one night in one of the boutique hotels which offer you the atmosphere of 150 years ago.
      Eat Lokma (doughnuts in syrup) and Kumru (sandwich which is toasted on special bread and filled to bursting point.)
      Visit beaches.

      Check photos, you’ll like there.

      p.s. Access to Alacati is quite easy through the six-lane Izmir-Cesme highway.,+Ala%C3%A7at%C4%B1,+T%C3%BCrkiye&hl=tr&geocode=FdawcQIdQCe6ASlrCGgABKfKFDHQsAG8mP7M4Q%3BFa0gSAIdF3CSASmN12PJ2Hi7FDFUKOSPOh1rqg&mra=ls&sll=39.664475,28.169975&sspn=4.185753,9.876709&ie=UTF8&ll=39.656456,28.168945&spn=4.186265,9.876709&t=h&z=7

  22. I very much enjoyed stopping at small cities in the middle of the country. Not the touristy places, but random ones on our way from Antalya to Istanbul.

    The time had just stopped there. Everything was so peaceful. The controversies of religion and generations were well hidden.

    Having a local with you will help–the difference between just looking at and talking to the people is huge.

    If you have the time, read Snow by Orhan Pamuk. But only if you want to immerse into the culture–it isn’t a fast read.

    If you experiences there don’t make you write a post about the trip I will be disappointed 🙂

  23. Bergama is close enough to Istanbul that you could swing it in a ten day trip. It’s maybe your best bet for seeing some amazing ancient Roman ruins while escaping the tourist hordes you’re likely to find at Ephesus this time of year. Cannakale and the WWI battlefields made famous in the film Gallipoli are really cool (as is crossing the Dardanelles), even if you’re not of ANZAC descent. If you only have ten days, I’d consider skipping Troy unless it really interests you. It’s not the most engrossing site, but is interesting. If you had more time, I’d say go to Olympos, but it’s more of a chill for ten days place.
    If you make it all the way down the Aegean, skip Bodrum in favour of Fethiye. Less people, more chill. My wife and I spent seven weeks in Turkey this year. You can find a ton of info on our (WP-powered) blog:

  24. Don’t forget a boat trip on the bosphorus in the EVENING, it is beautiful. It really brought my family together because it was just a magical experience.

    However try and find a small intimate boat as opposed to the large tacky beasts with loud eurotrash music blaring out because that attracts a not so classy clientele.

  25. I went to Istanbul often and the joy of my life is visiting the hammams There is NOTHING like the experience of being cleaner than you’ve ever been in your life. My husband was so nervous, but went anyway and came out thrilled. The air hit his skin and he said he felt more alive than he’d been in years. “Baby new skin!” LOL!

    After long days of travel, wandering the Egyptian Spice Market, mosques, museums (be sure and see the hair from the chin of Mohammad 😀 ) , exploring all the markets, it’s the best thing to get totally cleaned up, scrubbed, and relax in a 15, 16, 17th century elegant and beautiful facility. I’d choose the first ones mentioned, the oldest, as they are the loveliest. And have the women scrub you. It’s magic. If you need some etiquette tips, email me. 😀

  26. Seriously, stay longer than 10 days if you can…life is short and Turkey is an amazing place. At this point you’re already there, so enjoy, and change that ticket 🙂

    Beyond the highlights of Istanbul — go east. Try to stay in a cave hotel in Cappadocia – Goreme is a good home base. Venture to the eastern edge at the Armenian border just to visit the ruins at Ani – the photographer in you will love it.

    Or explore the Mediterranean coast there are tons of great spots, Kas & Cirali were memorable.

    Lastly, try all the food, savor the culture, and love the people.

  27. I was in Istanbul last month. Nearly didn’t make it out, due to volcano!

    Some good tips above. Add Basilica Cistern, magical underground reservoir in city centre, just beside Ayasofya. Take a tripod to get some great time exposures.

    Fish lunch or dinner on the Galata Bridge over the Golden Horn. The lower level is all restaurants. Fantastic atmosphere watching the ferries go to and fro, a glass of golden Efes beer, the hills of Asia in the distance.

    Spice Bazaar for the sheer sensory thrill.

    Ayasofya for the history. For hundreds of years the largest building in the world.

    Blue Mosque for the elegant design.

    Any small pastry shop for mouthwatering sweeties.

    You’ll love it!

  28. Visit my Web site (WordPress powered of course) and see many different sides of Turkey. In Istanbul take a walk from Taksim Square down on Istiklal Caddesi to Galatasaray. Occasionally take a short detour on one of the side streets. When you come to Galatasaray, stop at Cicek Pasaji for refreshments and walk from the side door out when you are done. Walk in the market a little bit before coming back on route to continue the walk from Galatasaray to Tunel, the short subway. But, don’t take the subway, instead walk down on Yuksek Kaldirim and note the old buildings, many are centuries old. Arrive at Galata Tower, the old Genoese tower and have another refreshment at the roof restaurant of Hotel Anemon next to the tower. You will see the tower almost from a touching distance, at least it would seem that way. When ready, walk down to Karakoy and have dinner at “Tarihi Karakoy Balikcisi” or Griffin Restaurant. You will have a magnificnt vista of the Golden Horn, Topkapi Palace on the left, leading to the Blue Mosque, to Hagia Sophia, continuing to the right to Fatih Mosque and Unkapani Bridge. Sunset there is gorgeous and the food is excellent.

    If you are going out of Istanbul and have a little time in your hand, try a trip to the island of Tenedos, aka Bozcaada. You will truly relax there. While you are in that region, take a trip to Troy, Tenedos is directly across from Troy.

    Travel down south to a small town called Ayvalik and admire the centuries old olive trees and orchards. It is a charming town with good eating places on Cunda Island.

    You can see photographs and read writings on my blog about these places. You will not regret seeing the parts many tourists miss. By all means, visit the museums, palaces, but to see the “real” life go a little off the beaten path.